The idea for Your Family’s Table stems from three different points in my working career. The first is when I served as interim President and CEO of the Make-A-Wish Foundation for Georgia and Alabama. That was my first interaction with the non-profit world and it proved to be life changing. From that opportunity, my second experience is one that continues today. Beginning about eight years ago I started volunteering one day a week in the warehouse at Habitat for Humanity. My weekly visits have helped honed some elementary carpentry skills to where I’d like to broaden what I have learned in all those years. Finally, and a bit self-serving, is a desire to help my wife and daughter, Linda and Kara, grow their retail business, Southern Oak Provisions, located in downtown Ball Ground. Their success in selling custom farm tables has led to a demand greater than supply. They innocently asked if I could start making their tables, which was intriguing, but wondered how I could pull all this together.
Since retiring from the corporate world three years ago I have been praying about ways to give back to our community. My family and I have been blessed beyond any expectations. Watching families touched by Make-A-Wish and Habitat made me realize how fortunate we are and how others continue to struggle. Specifically, the women (95% of Habitat homeowners are women) who move into a Habitat home do so with very little household furniture. As I thought about Linda and Kara’s request I realized I could indeed pull all three points together. However, I’m going to give the tables to deserving families, not sell them in our retail store. I thought ‘why don’t I build tables for these new Habitat homeowners’? Given that the kitchen is the new family room and is where the family usually gathers, if they had a good, sturdy kitchen table to sit around it might help foster a better communication, understanding and an overall family life for those in need! And thus my (our) donation becomes…Your Family’s Table.
Initially I am going to focus on donating tables to the Habitat homeowners. The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity builds about 50 homes per year, thus I’ll start with 50 tables. That alone is daunting but very doable with a good leadership team, obviously some financial help from friendly donors, and hard work. Longer term, if we can build a sustainable model, I’ll consider broadening our giving to other deserving families in North Georgia. My longer term goal is to expand beyond just tables …the possibilities are endless!
Initially, I will build the tables, perhaps with a little help from my friends. However, as we expand my goal is to recruit unemployed military veterans to volunteer with the production of the tables, teaching them skills they could take into the marketplace to earning a living. I hope that happens very soon.
This may seem like a relatively simple act of giving away a table but it’s not the table per se that is at the heart of this mission. It’s the desire to foster more conversations between parents and children, between each child, and certainly between parents. It’s a hectic, stressful environment we live in and communicating via social media is not the answer. Many would argue it’s the problem. Let’s get families talking again, in person. If Your Family’s Table provides the means we’ll be a step closer to better relationships and stronger family units to every family we serve.
President & CEO, Your Family's Table